Last week I was having an interesting conversion with a good friend of mine about languages and how people express themselves. We got to the topic of Britain, and how even though they speak English many times it seems like they speak a foreign language. They have so many alternative words for every day things that it’s really hard to understand what is being said. Eventually our discussion led to to Cockney Rhyming Slang, which I knew nothing about. I was fascinated with what I learned.

Cockney Rhyming Slang phrases are created from taking an expression that rhymes with a singular word and using that expression instead of the word. In many cases the rhyming word word isn’t said.

Here’s an example, the word “keys” rhymes with “macaroni cheese.” Using Cockney Rhyming Slang, instead of saying, “Have you seen me keys?” One would say, “Have you seen me Macaronis?”  So cool.

Cockney Rhyming Slang is a collection of phrases used by Cockneys and other Londoners.. Someone who is a true Cockney is one who is born close to St. Mary-le-Bow Church in Cheapside, London.  Nowadays, the term Cockney is used to describe people born outside this area as long as they have a “Cockney” accent or a Cockney heritage.

I came across this awesome website that is all about Cockney Rhyming Slang and has many examples.

Here are examples of Cockney Rhyming Slang for parts of the body:

“Feet” rhymes with “Plates of meat” -> “I have size 7 plates.”

“Head” rhymes with “Loaf of bread” -> “Use your loaf!”

Today Cockney Rhyming Slang is used more than ever. Modern Cockney Rhyming Slang is now being developed using the names of celebrities and famous people.

“Cup of Tea” rhymes with “Jay-Z” -> “Make me a Jay-Z.”

I found it amazing how much creativity goes into what seems like a different language.

Using Cockney Rhyming Slang, can you think of alternative ways to say common phrases?

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3 Responses to Cockney Rhyming Slang

  1. Caitlin St. John says:

    Here’s another one, just for fun.

    “Hat” rhymes with “Tit-fer-tat” -> Where’s my Tit-fer?

  2. While Rhyming Slang is still used throughout Britain, it is the bastardization of it that will be it’s undoing. Case in point, Jay Z would never refer to tea since the Z would be be pronounced zed.

    I run the Cockney Rhyming Slang site at http://www.aldertons.com and people will often send me slang expressions… the problem is that the references are arcane or fleeting in nature. To be properly accepted as Cockney Rhyming Slang the rhyming expression must be commonly used or instantly familiar to everyone, not a select few. So references to popular singers and such will never be used. It’s not about Rhyming Slang being cast is stone and unchangeable, it’s just that there’s no point to it if people struggle over the references and are unclear about what the speaker means.

    • Yana Homutetski says:

      Hello Jeremy, thank you for commenting. Cockney Rhyming Slang is very new to me so I figured that the phrases I came up on my own time were probably ones that were not commonly used, haha. Thank you for clarifying that. :-)

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